When I started my dance training with Kelechi, the first hurdle I needed to overcome was memorizing choreography steps…
You think that math is a difficult subject to learn?
I tell you, dance choreography is way harder! At least for me…
With math problems, you have specific formulas. Then you have textbooks to practice similar problems. Then those practice problems have solutions at the end of the book. And if you are lucky like me, you have a parent to explain you the whole thing when you’re stuck with a problem at home.
But with the dance choroegraphies I am learning, there is nothing! No resource whatsoever to practice after class … It would have been better if Kelechi let us videotape him do the choreography at the end of the class. But there is no chance for that! Not even a water bottle is allowed to enter the practice room. Sounds too strict? Well, that’s how it is unfortunately…
And being outspoken, I expressed the need to videotape his choreography so that we could practice at home. But the last time I asked, he said “I need dancers who can learn the steps in a short time and be able to come up on a stage and perform.” But then the question I had in my mind was “What about those of us who are dancing just for the fun of it? Not everyone has a dream or goal to perform on Commerzbank Arena!!!”
Now you must be thinking, “Why didn’t you say that also?” Well, I didn’t because he just won’t listen! He already seems to be annoyed by the “constant distractions” I create in the practice room by asking unnecessary questions from him or asking my peers questions when I should have asked him.
But you know, the problem for me is that the most of the training is conducted in German, so many times I am out of touch with what’s going on in the group. Then I have to ask a near person before I am way too far off. And that’s called “distraction”. Very nice!
Anyway, now after about 2 months, I have gotten OK (meaning far from good) with memorizing choreography steps. But before I get a chance to get good at it, now I see that I have a new hurdle to overcome. And that is expressing emotions and statements through the dance moves.
Today, in the class, there was one new woman who was beautifully in touch with the music and expressed it through her dance moves and it was a beautiful scene to watch. And after class, I asked her if she has danced before and as it turns out she danced with one of Kelechi’s students 10 years ago. Then I thought, “No wonder why you didn’t struggle with memorizing steps…” (The muscle memory is still there, I mean). But the amazing thing is that she said it was her first time ever to be encouraged to express music and emotions through dance and she excelled in it. So we look forward to seeing her again!
And to share it, this week I had a similar discovery moment too. But before I share it, I would like to give a little background first. And that is, if you have read my earlier story or have heard me say, I often self-promotingly say “I can dance!“. But as much as I self-promotingly say “I can dance!“, I often self-depreciatingly say “I can’t sing!” The freshest instance is from yesterday, see below Wechat exchange of mine:
Having had such a background, I was so amazed at the beautiful experience I had at my very first singing attempt 2 days ago. There was no authority figure telling me what to do or what NOT to do. The class started with a warm-up exercise (I never knew warm-up exercises existed for singing!), after which my voice suddenly felt so smooth and I seemed to have gotten into a singing gear (gear as in a car gear).
And then I took off with a flying start with the singing. Interestingly, I didn’t get self-conscious about my voice at all. It seemed as irrelevant as my legs are for singing. Strange, isn’t it? I think that magic happened because I was enjoying my being there, the music and the group so much that I forgot to think about my voice.
And to make it even better, they let me record our singing as much as I wanted. See below example:
The clearest voice you hear is mine, of course, as I was recording on my phone. When I hear it, my voice sounds SO IMPERFECT. But you know what? I don’t care!!! I don’t care ’cause I enjoy singing this song so much! I am so glad that I was allowed to record this song because they said this song cannot be found on Youtube or elsewhere.
To make my singing more challenging, the lyrics was written in Spanish and Mayan language. The Spanish I could deal with little effort. But the Mayan language was something unique! They have some strange-sounding words. Hear them here.
And the best thing about this singing experience was that emotions were pouring out of my chest as I sang. And I didn’t understand a word of Spanish or Mayan, you know! Yet, I could feel the song and the emotions poured out. And when they did, it had a very healing and freeing effect on me. So I look forward to going there next Thursday again!
Now, coming back to my dance class, I wonder why I haven’t felt like that yet (let alone having a runners’ high like I had at Flying Steps dance academy). Well, there was one session when I felt really really good. But why doesn’t it repeat often?
So having had no luck of expressing emotions through dance, all I can do is to watch others’ examples to learn from them. See below video, where the dancers are supposedly creating magic on the stage (I am saying “supposedly” because when I watch it, I don’t feel what the judges have felt).
So to finish the story, expressing emotions through singing and dancing was the artistic exploration of the week and I look forward to next week for further exploration. And in case you’d like to sing “Ruiseñor” along with us, here is the lyrics for you.